LeBron James and Anthony Davis have shown themselves to be perhaps the best duo in basketball today and in recent history. They’ve done so by leading the Los Angeles Lakers to the Western Conference Finals in their first season together, sitting just two games away from the NBA Finals.
When Davis joined the Lakers during the summer of 2019, the narrative surrounding him was that he had never faced the pressure of being on a team with such lofty expectations and pressure, suggesting he would struggle to adjust to it.
Over a year later, he — along with James — have shown what they’re capable of carrying such a burden. James spoke about the most important thing he’s tried to teach Davis during their first season together after Davis’ buzzer-beater to win Game 2 against the Denver Nuggets.
“I think just staying even-keeled. That’s what it’s all about,” James said. “The playoffs and the postseason, the more you advance into the postseason, the emotions and the adversity, it’s going to be a roller coaster at times.
“No matter if you’re up, no matter if you’re down, being able to keep your composure and your mindset on the main thing is very important. This is the furthest he’s gone in his career up to this point. I’m just happy to be here with him to give him any advice and lean on me. To be completely honest, in the second half, I leaned on him, and he brought us home.
“So I just tried to set the example early on, and we leaned on him, especially in the fourth quarter, and he brought us home.”
Davis echoed the sentiment following what he called the biggest shot of his career. “When I left (New Orleans), I just wanted to be able to compete for a championship, and I know that moments like this comes with it,” Davis said.
“Especially being in L.A., the biggest market in basketball. I know the quote, unquote, pressure is going to be on us, going to be on me, especially the first year with everything that happened last year, and then also playing alongside ‘Bron. I know he gets criticized more than any basketball player ever.
“So just being able to play alongside him, and he kind of helped me with all this quote, unquote, pressure, going out and playing. You guys saw that in Game 5 of the Rockets series, where he comes to me at the scorer’s table and talks to me when I was struggling.
“Just going out there and just playing basketball. He makes it a lot easier for me. Just being able to want this type of pressure, this type of spotlight, and go out and play in big games and make big-time plays and big-time shots for my team, it was definitely what I wanted. The job is definitely not over until we’re able to win the ring.”
His sentiment of keeping the celebration short before moving onto the next game is exactly what James wanted to teach him. Despite the buzzer beater being a truly incredible moment, the Lakers still must win two more games to reach Finals, and from there must win four more games to become champions.
There is still a ton of work to be done, but it appears Davis and James have been preparing for these moments all year together.
Davis focused on championship over individual accolades
Davis has not strayed from his original message that all of the individual accolades in the world mean less if the Lakers don’t win the championship. This was the sentiment he had after being named to the All-NBA First Team.
“Not too many people can say they’ve been First Team, let alone an All-NBA Team. I’ve been able to do that several times, so it’s been an honor for me,” he said. “But I can’t lose track and get excited about that and not remember what the ultimate goal is.
“I think having a championship trumps every other award. That’s kind of been my mindset.”
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